The Canadian government has banned the import of dragon fruit, a popular fruit grown in parts of Asia that contains the toxic toxin thiamin.
The ban came after a World Health Organization report revealed that the fruit can cause liver damage, kidney failure, birth defects and a range of other health problems in humans and animals.
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Canned dragon fruits are also banned in the US, but they are not as common in the rest of the world, with some countries allowing their export.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said the new ban would help prevent the spread of diseases like cholera and malaria in the country.
He told ABC News that while he wasn’t surprised the ban would be enforced, he was pleased that the government had stepped in.
“It was pretty shocking,” he said.
“It’s a very large part of the agricultural industry that is using thiamins in their production, and thiamine is very important for the immune system of the human body.”
Dr. Robert Bracken, a professor of molecular genetics at the Yale School of Public Health and an expert on thiamines, said it was “a good first step.”
He added that thiaminosin has been linked to kidney failure and birth defects.
“What it does, it prevents the thiamino acid from reaching the kidneys and thus it has a direct effect on the liver,” he told ABCNews.com.
Dr Bekim Moustafa, a medical toxicologist and professor of clinical medicine at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Global Health at Harvard Medical School, told ABCNEWS.com that he was concerned about the new restrictions because the countries where the fruits are grown are poor.
“Thiamin is essential for normal and healthy growth and development,” he explained.
“Thiamine plays a key role in maintaining the normal functioning of the immune and nervous systems.”
“It can help prevent disease and death in a variety of organisms.”
He said the restrictions will also have a major impact on the supply chain, since they will restrict the supply of imported thiamosin from other countries.
“The amount of thiamen that we need to use in the U.S. is going to be significantly reduced,” he added.
Dr Moustafas comments come as Canada and the United States are working on a trade agreement that would bring new markets and trade advantages to both countries.
The agreement has been stalled because of disagreements over how much to charge for imported thamosin.
Canadian negotiators want to impose tariffs of up to 20 percent, while the U-S.
has sought to reduce them to zero.